Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Eric R. Dahlen

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Emily Yowell

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Michael Madson

Committee Member 3 Department



Past research has linked relational aggression (RA) to many forms of psychological maladjustment among children and early adolescents. Although less is known about RA among emerging adults, there is a growing body of research demonstrating a number of adverse correlates. This literature has sparked an interest in examining the role of personality in RA. Most investigations to date have focused on the Five Factor Model; however, the six factor HEXACO model of personality (Ashton et al., 2004) may offer some advantages in studying RA. Moreover, the manipulative and often covert nature of RA among emerging adults has theoretical overlap with the “Dark Triad” of personality (i.e., psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism). This study explored the utility of the HEXACO model and the Dark Triad constructs in predicting proactive and reactive RA among college students. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to test the predictive utility of these constructs and assess the potential role of gender. Participants low in Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness reported utilizing more proactive and reactive RA. All three Dark Triad traits were positive predictors of reactive RA; narcissistic and psychopathic traits were positive predictors of proactive RA. Although there was some evidence that respondent gender moderated the relationships between certain independent variables and RA in regression models that included all predictive constructs, these effects were not evident when these variables were examined in isolation. The findings suggest that the HEXACO model of personality and the Dark Triad traits have utility in understanding relational aggression among emerging adults.